Efficient debiased evidence estimation by multilevel Monte Carlo sampling
Proceedings of the Thirty-Seventh Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence, PMLR 161:34-43, 2021.
In this paper, we propose a new stochastic optimization algorithm for Bayesian inference based on multilevel Monte Carlo (MLMC) methods. In Bayesian statistics, biased estimators of the model evidence have been often used as stochastic objectives because the existing debiasing techniques are computationally costly to apply. To overcome this issue, we apply an MLMC sampling technique to construct low-variance unbiased estimators both for the model evidence and its gradient. In the theoretical analysis, we show that the computational cost required for our proposed MLMC estimator to estimate the model evidence or its gradient with a given accuracy is an order of magnitude smaller than those of the previously known estimators. Our numerical experiments confirm considerable computational savings compared to the conventional estimators. Combining our MLMC estimator with gradient-based stochastic optimization results in a new scalable, efficient, debiased inference algorithm for Bayesian statistical models.